July 17, 2020

An afternoon with Southern Resident killer whales!

Tail lob

Sarah | 07/17/2020 | M/V Kestrel | 2:00pm

What. A. Day. We had yet another amazing day on the water amongst members of the Southern Resident killer whale population. It was truly a dreamy day!

Captain Brian and I elected to head south out of Friday Harbor towards a recent report of orcas from our colleagues in the Pacific Whale Watch Association. All of the member companies of PWWA are obligated to share wildlife sightings with one another, enabling us to search a huge amount of water and area by sharing information! We headed south through San Juan Channel, and just south of Turn Island we stopped at a harbor seal haul-out. We got great looks at several of these small seals sunning themselves in the afternoon sun. After admiring the pinnipeds (and waving to some friends who were kayaking on the shoreline!) we continued on our way south.

As we rounded Cattle Point on San Juan Island we started scanning for tall black dorsal fins as we headed north. As we neared False Bay we got our first peek at some fins… we had members of J pod! The Southern Resident killer whale (SRKW) population is designated into three pods: J, K & L. We were lucky to have almost one third of the entire population of 72 whales around us today, with 22 remaining members of J pod. We got great looks at the whales as they foraged for Chinook salmon in the tiderips, including J26 “Mike,” J39 “Mako,” J31 “Tsuchi,” J56 “Tofino,” and J53 “Kiki.” Every day spent on the water with this critically endangered population of whales is precious, and today was absolutely incredible.

Filed by:

Captain, Lead Naturalist & Vessel Coordinator

Sarah M.


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